At first glace, Levi Kitchen seems like any other 9-year-old: Full of energy and a bit shy around adults. But give him a minute or two, and you’ll soon see a different side.
He’s a bit of a motocross prodigy, having placed in the top percentage at several national races. He recently returned from a cross country trip with his family to compete at the Loretta Lynn National Motocross Championships in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.
Levi won an area qualifier in Richland, Wash., followed by a regional championship in Milford, Calif., to earn the opportunity to race against some of the best competitors in the nation during the week of Aug.2-7.
Despite a few mishaps, Levi captured sixth-place overall out of the top 42 riders in the nation.
“It was a lot harder than it usually is,” he said. “There, they all went really, really fast. But I wasn’t nervous.”
His parents, Paul and Sara, encouraged Levi to try his hardest.
“We told him, ‘you’re here to compete against the best of the best,’ Sara said. “When you put that kind of time and effort into this, you want to see him do as well as he’s capable of doing.”
In addition to the Loretta Lynn national, Levi also competed in the Ponca City Grand National July 26-31 in Oklahoma, where he captured third-place overall.
Levi said his favorite part about racing is “winning.”
“That’s definitely fun, and I also like all the friends I’ve met,” he said. “I get to hang out with them in between races.”
The Kitchens’ travelled through 10 states during their three week trip.
“I loved meeting all the different people who have the same interests we do,” Sara said. “It’s also good family time, it feels like we’re out camping.”
The 5,000 mile journey did not come cheap: On top of a $365 entry fee, the Kitchens had to raise about $10,000 for the trip. Those funds came from a garage sale, and sponsors Kitchen Electric, MS3 Footpegs, Devol Engineering, 2nd Moto, Hyper X Racewear, Factory First Racing, Metro Landscaping, Great Northern Asset Management, Thursday Night Motocross, and various family members.
Last week, the Kitchens had a meeting with Pro-Caliber in Vancouver, and Levi was invited to join Kawasaki Team Green. This means he’ll get to use a free demo bike for the next year. Typically, these cost between $3,500 to $4,000. Depending on how he does in the next year, there is a potential for more in the future, Sara said.
The one thing that Sara has had to get accustomed to is watching Levi have his share of spills. So far, he’s broken his leg, had a fractured collarbone and a few concussions. However, he’s learned from these accidents and his parents keep a careful eye on him, and won’t hesitate to pull Levi from a race if there’s an injury.
Sadly, the family knows a young man who died recently due to continuing to race after a concussion.
“As parents, we have him in the best possible protection we can,” Sara said. “I know he won’t do anything he can’t do. This is fun and exciting, and it’s what he loves to do. We just hope he stays healthy.”